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Published on July 15th, 2020 | by Remeredzai Joseph Kuhudzai


Nairobi VW eGolf Experience

July 15th, 2020 by  

Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner First Officer Iyadi Iyadi had enough problems with his ICE car and maintaining it became very expensive. He then decided to ditch the ICE and get an EV. After some extensive research, he decided to buy the 35.8 kWh 2019 VW eGolf. Dealerships in most African countries don’t sell the eGolf. You can’t even buy one in South Africa. You can, however, hail one in Rwanda on VW’s Move App. Iyadi decided to import one himself from the United Kingdom, where they drive on the same side of the road as in Kenya.

Iyadi Iyadi’s 2019 eGolf.

Kenya is just perfect for electric vehicles. Kenya has really excelled in increasing the share of renewable energy in its electricity generation mix. A whopping 93% of electricity generation in Kenya is from renewable energy sources. This mix includes significant contributions from wind farms, geothermal power plants, hydropower, and some utility-scale solar. In meeting its renewable energy generation targets, Kenya has found itself in an interesting position where the country has excess capacity at times, especially at night when demand drops significantly, as we covered here previously.

Moving to electric vehicles will have a huge impact on Kenya’s CO2 emissions, as the transport sector currently accounts for 39% of CO2 emissions in Kenya. The importance of accelerating EV adoption to reduce CO2 emissions in Kenya has been discussed here. So how has the eGolf experience in Nairobi been so far? We caught up with Iyadi Iyadi (II) recently to get an update on this:

Iyadi Iyadi’s 2019 eGolf.

CT: What inspired you to buy an electric car and what made you choose the eGolf?

II: I was inspired to buy an electric car just from doing research and seeing how low the cost of maintenance was. My previous ICE car, a 2007 Freelander 2, was getting old and maintaining it became very expensive. I recently got a quote of about $3000 to change the gearbox plus general service and then I was like, “That’s it! I am ditching ICE.” I chose the eGolf because I liked the VW brand Golfs and these are known to be reliable cars. Plus is it quite affordable compared to other EVs. With the eGolf it would be easy to get some parts, say if I ever needed to replace a door handle or something, since the ICE Golfs are available from dealers here. There are also some local technicians trained on the eGolf after Rwanda launched them with the Move App.

CT: What’s your normal daily commute in kilometers each way to work and back, etc.?

II: I’ve been mostly driving between Green Park and Kilimani which is about 40km each way, so I do 80 km on an average day.

CT: What’s the furthest distance you have traveled in your eGolf on one charge? Ever done Nairobi to Naivasha, for example?

II: The furthest I’ve driven is from Green Park to Kilimani then Ngong Hills and back to Green Park, which was about 140~ km and I used about 50% of charge. Due to the lockdowns I haven’t done a longer road trip just yet.

CT: We assume most of your charging is done at home? How long does it take to charge? Do you charge off a normal 3-pin plug or have you installed a home charger?

II: At Green Park I charge my car with a normal 3-pin socket. It takes about 5 hrs to charge it from 3/4 to full. In Kilimani I installed a charger which is much faster, and it takes about an hour to charge it 3/4 to full.

CT: How much did it cost to import this car by yourself from UK?

II: I imported the car myself. The total cost including shipping and duty was around $45,000. 

Iyadi Iyadi’s 2019 eGolf.

CT: How has been your experience been so far driving electric in Nairobi?

II: So far so good. The car is very cheap to run. I do 10km/kWh on average without much effort. I feel like in Kenya, especially with the traffic, electric is the way to go. For the usual commutes between Green Park and Kilimani I calculated it cost me less than $2 for 80km. Quite cheap. I think I can go 300+km on a full charge in Nairobi City traffic. I get a lot of questions about the car on my daily runs and have realized a lot of people don’t know much about electric vehicles. I think EVs are the future and especially for Africa.

109,751 motor vehicles were imported into Kenya in 2019, according to the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics-Economic Survey 2020. Over 90% of these imports were used cars and these are mostly coming from Japan and the UK. Kenyan firms also assembled 7,802 brand new vehicles in 2019 in partnerships with some international OEMs. We hope EVs both new and used start getting a larger market share in Kenya.

Iyadi Iyadi’s 2019 eGolf.

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About the Author

Remeredzai Joseph Kuhudzai has been fascinated with batteries since he was in primary school. As part of his High School Physics class he had to choose an elective course. He picked the renewable energy course and he has been hooked ever since. At university he continued to explore materials with applications in the energy space and ending up doing a PhD involving the study of radiation damage in High Temperature Gas Cooled Nuclear Reactors. He has since transitioned to work in the Solar and Storage industry and his love for batteries has driven him to obsess about electric vehicles.

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